How Does Air Pressure Affect Climate
Changes in air pressure could have a big effect on climate. Air pressure controls the atmospheres circulation, and therefore influences how moisture moves. Changes in circulation can alter rainfall, temperature, winds and storminess. These trends, and their impact on climate, could be stronger than we thought.
Studies Look At Perception Vs Reality
In one study of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, participants were asked directly if weather affected their condition. And, perhaps not surprisingly, many said that yes, in fact, it does.
A lot of people perceive weather as having an effect on their condition, says Ruthberg. Most of the time people will complain that colder weather or damper weather makes them feel worse than sunnier, warmer, drier weather.
Since perception doesnt necessarily equal reality, researchers have approached it from another angle and had people keep diaries about their pain or stiffness over a month or longer, then matched the reports up with official weather data.
Some of them have shown some correlation, but it hasnt been seen in every single study, and it has not been shown to be just a huge, huge factor, Ruthberg says.
A 1960 study did lend some support to a weather connection. After University of Pennsylvania researcher Joseph Hollander monitored 12 arthritis patients in a climate-controlled chamber over several weeks, most, he said, felt worse when they were subjected to a combination of increased humidity and falling barometric pressure.
How Does Low Pressure Affect Weather
Low pressure is what causes active weather. The air is lighter than the surrounding air masses so it rises, causing an unstable environment. Rising air makes the water vapor in the air condense and form clouds and rain for example. Low pressure systems lead to active weather like wind and rain, and also severe weather.
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Are There Other Things I Can Do To Help My Arthritis Pain
Yes. Making sure that you dress appropriately for your activity will help. If you are going for a walk, wear comfortable, layered clothing. A shirt with a sweater and maybe a light jacket would be a good choice.
This will help you stay warm and if the weather changes you can easily put on or remove articles of clothing with ease. One heavy item like a wool sweater might not keep you as warm as different layers of fabric. Also, make sure that you are wearing supportive clothing for your body movements and shoes. That might mean wearing compression socks, stockings, or gloves.
During the winter, some people might wear compression gloves and then mittens over them so that their fingers are kept together and warm within the mittens. Well-fitting shoes or boots will help keep you steady on your feet. During colder winter months, you can lose a lot of heat through the top of your head. Wearing a hat will help keep the heat from escaping when you are outside. If you must go out in winter weather, make sure you take your time.
If you occasionally use a cane to assist in walking, make sure you have it with you. Even areas known for warm weather can occasionally have rain, snow, sleet, and ice. Walking with a cane can help you steady yourself, especially if it is windy outside.
How Does Air Pressure Affect Arthritis
Changes in barometric pressure can cause expansion and contraction of tendons, muscles, bones and scar tissues, resulting in pain in the tissues that are affected by arthritis. Low temperatures may also increase the thickness of joint fluids, making them stiffer and perhaps more sensitive to pain during movement.
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Which Weather Conditions Are Worst
If you combine results of the various studies, the general consensus is that cold, wet weather is the worst for inciting arthritis pain. Terence Starz, MD, rheumatologist at University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Pittsburgh, may have summed it up best with this quip he shared from one of his patients, The frost is on the pumpkin and the pain is back in my joints.
Changes in barometric pressure a measure that refers to the weight of the air seem to be more important for pain levels than the actual barometric pressure. Meaning that either a cold front or warm front coming in can ramp up the ache in your fingers. But once the weather has settled in, your pain will even out.
A 2015 study of 810 people with OA published in Journal of Rheumatology found significant links between humidity, temperature and joint pain. The effect of humidity on pain was stronger when the weather was colder. In essence, they found that wet, winter days are no fun.
A 2015 study of 133 RA patients published in Rheumatology International found that their disease activity was lower when their days were sunny and dry.
Dont Take On Chores Alone
If you live with arthritis, its important that you maintain activity in your life to keep your joints from becoming stiff. However, certain tasks including some of the most common chores you may be performing during winter may do more harm than good when it comes to your joints. High-impact activities, including snow shoveling and leaf raking, can actually cause unnecessary pain or even long-term damage by putting too much strain on your affected joint or joints. This winter season, you might consider reaching out to a friend, family member, or neighbor for assistance. Its worth it to protect your body.
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Why Does My Arthritis Hurt When It Rains
The cause of pain isnt well established. However, its obvious that your arthritis responds to changes in barometric pressure. When theres a rainstorm, atmospheric pressure drops. As soon as your body detects this change, it makes your soft tissues swell up. As a result, fluid in the joints expands. Unfortunately, the expansion and contraction that takes place around the joints can irritate your nerves and cause pain.
Your pain may also occur because worn-out cartilage in the joints allows exposed nerves to respond to changes in pressure. Another reason for increased arthritic pain could be because the change in atmospheric pressure causes your tendons, muscles, and scar tissue to contract and expand. Consequently, this creates pain in joints with arthritis. Reduced temperatures may also cause the fluid in the joints to thicken and feel stiff.
You may also feel greater pain when the weather doesnt allow you to move around the way you usually do. The truth is that youll spend more time indoors and restrict your movement when its rainy or cold outside. This can make your inactive joints become stiff and ache more.
What Can I Do To Lessen My Arthritis Pain
Arthritis and cold weather might want to make you stay inside and get under the covers of a warm blanket but you might want to reconsider that and opt for a brisk walk.
Even walking indoors, stretching, and other movements can get your blood circulating and help reduce stiffness associated with arthritic pain. Gentle movements that keep your body moving will help fluid find your joints to aid in lubricating them.
Imagine your body is like a car you have to keep it tuned up for it to work properly. If you let your car sit and you never start it, it will be hard to start it when you want to go somewhere. Your body is the same way. Activity keeps your joints moving and able to function when you need them to.
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How Can You Treat Weather
When the weather changes overnight, and you wake up to an extra ache in your joints, there are a few tricks to keep in your back pocketparticularly for people with osteoarthritis. That said, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or another inflammatory form of arthritis, you likely already have a treatment plan in place for flare-ups, which may involve a course of corticosteroids prescribed by your doctor. Of course, these tips can still be helpful in addition to your prescription medications but talk with your doctor first. Here are a few things to try, according to the CDC:
- A stash of over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help tame unexpected weather-related joint pain. These can take the edge off, at least until that barometric pressure has a chance to rise. If thats not doing the trick, you can always talk with your doctor about a prescription-strength option to get that arthritis pain relief.
- Gentle physical activity, such as yoga or range of motion exercises, can help ease pain and stiffness.
- Physical therapy gives you the tools to practice at home consistently, which can be helpful to ward off flare-ups and reduce pain when you do have one.
- Practicing grounding techniques, like deep breathing, can help take your focus away from anxious thoughts or feeling down when the weather is to blame for aches and pains.
Why Is Arthritis Worse In The Winter
Jan 11, 2022Amy Paturel
If you suffer from arthritis, whether inflammatory or not, youve probably noticed your joints getting crankier as the weather turns colder. But why are arthritis symptoms worse during the winter?
Our joints operate best in temperate weather, says Dr. Mariko L. Ishimori, Interim Director at the Cedars-SinaiDivision of Rheumatology. When the weather gets cooler, the synovial fluid that acts like motor oil in our joints becomes more like sludge.
Some people are so sensitive to the weather that their aching joints act as a signal that a storm is coming.
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Why Your Body Aches When It Rains
Maybe youve noticed that your bones ache in cold weather. Now youre wondering: Why do my bones hurt when its cold? Well, its not uncommon for an old joint injury to ache on cold and rainy days. Many physicians have observed that more people feel joint pains on rainy days. So what exactly is responsible for this?
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Managing Weather Aches & Barometric Pressure Pains
Unfortunately, arthritis symptoms will likely persist no matter what the weather conditions are or what climate one lives in. It is important to stay well-hydrated, especially if the weather is rainy or humid, to keep the joints internally lubricated. It may seem that outside moisture would find its way into the body, but that is not necessarily the case.
In a similar way, swimming is a great exercise for arthritis sufferers to loosen up sore joints despite the weather.7 Swimming laps at an indoor pool or joining a water therapy program8,9can make a huge difference for arthritis sufferers during rainy and humid seasons. It may seem counter intuitive to immerse the body in water when excess moisture in the air may be causing symptoms to worsen. But low-impact exercises like swimming can actually make a big difference for a joints range of motion over time. For immediate relief, over-the-counter arthritis creams like JointFlex can help arthritis sufferers enjoy the changing of seasons with less pain and discomfort. Individuals who suffer from weather-related arthritis symptoms should contact their doctors to discuss over-the-counter treatment options.
What May Cause Weather
Experts believe that joints may ache among affected people because of changes in barometric pressure, which occur during weather system changes. Before it rains, barometric pressure tends to decrease.
When this happens, theres less air pressure exerting itself on your body, which may allow muscles, tendons and other tissue surrounding the joints to expand. The expansion may crowd the joints, putting extra pressure on them, which may lead to pain.
People with arthritis or those who experience chronic joint pain may be more sensitive to this type of discomfort, which is caused by tissue taking up more space than usual and overburdening the joints, says hip and knee orthopedic surgeon, Robert W. Borzio, M.D.
Once a weather system moves through, the barometric pressure readjusts, and joint pain usually dissipates.
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Cold Weather And Joint Pain
In one study, which looked at 245 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, it was found that older patients were more likely to report flare-ups during the colder weather.4
However, a more extensive analysis of nine studies in patients with rheumatoid arthritis failed to identify a link between the weather and pain.5
Why Does Cold Rain Make You Hurt
Scientists dont know for sure why changes in weather can make some people hurt, or why it affects some people more than others. But they do have a few theories.
Dr. Starz believes at least some of the increased pain comes from decreased activity. We know that physical activity relieves arthritis pain. And when the weather is unpleasant, people tend to hole up inside. That inactivity can lead to more pain.
Other scientists offer physical reasons behind the pain. Changes in barometric pressure can cause expansion and contraction of tendons, muscles, bones and scar tissues, resulting in pain in the tissues that are affected by arthritis. Low temperatures may also increase the thickness of joint fluids, making them stiffer and perhaps more sensitive to pain during movement.
Dr. Starz agrees, The mind-body connection is strong. If warm sunny weather makes you feel better psychologically, youll probably feel better physically as well.
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Does Weather Affect Arthritis Pain
- By Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
Medical myths die hard. Maybe thats because theres no agreement on whether a common belief is indeed a myth.
For example, theres the longstanding belief that weather affects arthritis pain. Many of my patients notice a clear connection some are so convinced of the link, they believe they can predict the weather better than the TV meteorologists. And maybe thats true.
But thats not what the science says. A recent study finds no connection between rainy weather and symptoms of back or joint pain. This conclusion was based on a staggering amount of data: more than 11 million medical visits occurring on more than two million rainy days and nine million dry days. Not only was there no clear pattern linking rainy days and more aches and pains, but there were slightly more visits on dry days.
Still not convinced? Thats understandable. Maybe its not rain or shine that matters maybe its barometric pressure, changes in weather, or humidity that matters most. Or maybe the study missed some key information, such as when symptoms began or got worse after all, it can take days or even weeks after symptoms begin to see a doctor.
Can You Prevent Arthritis Flare
Anyone with arthritis will tell you that planning ahead to avoid flare-ups is key. According to the Arthritis Foundation, a solid prevention plan is one of the best ways to manage your arthritis and avoid flare-ups.
People with weather-sensitive arthritis cant control the weather, but they can learn to prepare better for certain weather conditions and the symptoms that may accompany those changes. Here are a few things to consider:
- Keep an eye on weather conditions for the upcoming days and weeks in your area, if keeping tabs on the forecast feels genuinely helpful to you.
- Try to avoid being in harsh weather conditions, such as extreme heat or cold, for long periods of time.
- Dress in warm, dry clothing when the weather is cold.
- Dress in cool, loose clothing when the weather is hot and humid.
- Adjust the temperature inside your home to be neutral , neither too hot nor too cold.
Outside of planning around the weather, its also important to have a prevention plan for any other triggers that can lead to a flare-up in your symptoms. So, if youre someone whose arthritis is negatively affected by things such as infection, illness, overexertion, or even emotional stress, your plan might also include:
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Does Alternating Heat And Cold Therapy Help
Many people find it beneficial to alternate between heat and cold therapy. You can switch between hot and cold therapies throughout the day. Usually, its best to wait at around 20 minutes between sessions, though you can also alternate between hot and cold water in the shower. Always start and finish with a cold treatment.
Talk with your doctor before alternating between full-body treatments such as an ice bath and a sauna or hot tub.
Why Does My Body Hurt When Weather Changes
The bottom line is that there may not be definitive answers yet as to why the body hurts when weather changes, but that does not change the fact people experience more pain. It could be due to:p
- hot, humid sunny days or cold rainy days
- high or low barometric pressure
- alternatively, cold or hot weather.
Each person is different, but paying attention to the pattern makes it possible to anticipate the incremental pain level based on the weather. Maintain a journal to discover the pattern and develop a pain response plan that fits different weather scenarios.
Managing pain, including back pain, is about much more than taking pain relievers. It requires a proactive approach to minimize the risk of pain increasing.
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